By Jerry Fite
” . . . Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which were offered according to the law), then hath he said, ‘Lo, I am come to do thy will.’ He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:8-10).
The inspired writer impresses upon the mind of the Jews that it was God’s will to establish a second covenant in order to sanctify his people. This goal was not designed to be reached through the various sacrifices of the first covenant (Law of Moses), but by the offering of God’s son, Jesus Christ. This “one-time” offering would satisfy God for all times.
Jesus’ one offering fulfilled the many offerings and sacrifices of the Law of Moses. Notice, the writer of Hebrews points to offerings other than sacrifices for sin that were offered under the first covenant. Each one stressed a particular need in one’s relationship with God, which is provided and perfected in Christ’s sacrifice.
Let us take a brief look at the Old Testament offerings, so we may appreciate the meaning of Jesus’ one sacrifice.
Jesus satisfies the burnt offering. The burnt-offering was offered by the priest in the morning and evening of every day for the congregation (Exo. 29:38-39). An individual offered it in order that “he may be accepted before Jehovah” (Lev. 1:3). Finding acceptance before Jehovah was a constant priority for the Jews, and should be for all today. Jesus’ sacrifice provides the opportunity for all to enjoy God’s acceptance. Through Christ’s redemptive work, God accepts us “as sons,” while we stand “justified” in his presence (Gal. 4:5-7; Rom. 3:24).
Jesus satisfies the meal-offering. The Hebrew word “meal” or “meat” (KJV) emphasizes “a gift offered by an inferior to a superior.” It reminded the Jew of God’s superiority to sustain them. Therefore, offering the first-fruits of grain was a meal or meat offering (Lev. 2:14). In Christ we find all we need for spiritual sustenance. He is the bread of life that has come from heaven (Jn. 6:51). Christians rely upon his bodily resurrection as a kind of “first fruits” ensuring their own (1 Cor. 15:20).
Jesus satisfies the peace-offering. Offerings of thanksgiving for mercy shown, vows kept and offerings that were given to God freely with no particular event in mind were of the class of peace offerings. The offerer, after giving God the “fat” of the animal, would eat the sacrifice (Lev. 7:11-17). The peace offering therefore stressed fellowship with God. As a Jew walked before God, he was reminded by his blessings received, and promises solemnly uttered in the name of Jehovah that God was near. This fellowship was emphasized when both God and the offerer shared in the partaking of the sacrifice. Today, no one comes unto the Father but by Jesus (Jn. 14:6). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can draw near to God with confidence (Heb. 10:19-22). In Christ we enjoy fellowship with God.
Jesus satisfies the sin-offering and trespass-offering. There were distinctive sin-offerings for the priest, congregation, ruler and common people, including the poor (Lev. 4; 5:7-8). The trespass-offering was offered when one defrauded God in things pertaining to temple service or when he swindled his neighbor. With such offering, one restored what was defrauded and he added a fifth part of the value. The sin offering emphasized the person, while the trespass offering -emphasized restitution. Jesus’ one sacrifice beautifully unites the offerings for iniquity. For Jesus paid the price for all man’s sins (Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor. 6:20).
Acceptance, sustenance, fellowship, and forgiveness were tied to the offerings and sacrifices under the Law of Moses. Today, Christ has made all these possible through his one sacrifice. Indeed, we have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 20, pp. 611-612
October 20, 1988